Friday, August 31, 2007

Will kickoffs be more dangerous?

Kickoffs are so dangerous that college football coaches hesitate to even practice them at full speed.

Eleven players on each team charge headlong at the opponents, with players often colliding violently at full speed.

"I don’t think there’s a coach that doesn’t feel like kickoff coverage has the most potential for injury," said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.

Yet the NCAA football rules committee recommended and the NCAA playing rules oversight panel mandated that the kickoff be moved back 5 yards to the 30-yard line to create more returns and fewer action-stopping touchbacks.

This should create more excitement, interesting kickoff strategies and higher-scoring games. But is it worth it?

"In the sport of football the most violent play is the kickoff, and we’re going to put guys at risk more often because the ball is going to remain in play," said Purdue coach Joe Tiller. "Chances are, we are going to have more injuries in a sport that has come into close scrutiny here about injuries."

An NCAA spokeswoman said it will be two or three years before the NCAA has injury data to determine whether kickoffs are more dangerous than other plays.

But if coaches and administrators had even an inkling that kickoff returns are especially dangerous, why would they make a rule that increases their frequency for 2007? – Ken Tysiac